Associated with the fringes of the Progressive Artists Group but “different to it,” Gaitonde was a solitary figure who isolated himself from everything that he considered irrelevant to his identity as a painter, echoing his beliefs and study of Zen Buddhism. After visiting New York in 1964 where he was exposed to American post-war art he began to use a roller and palette knife instead of a paint brush. His paintings are constructed with layers of colour, each layer forming a balanced relationship between light and texture. Gaitonde was not concerned with representation but the painted surface itself. As the artist stated, ‘A painting is simply a painting – a play of light and colour… Every painting as a seed which germinates in the next painting. A painting is not limited to one canvas, I go on adding elements and that’s how my work evolves… there is a kind of metamorrphosis in every canvas and the metamorphosis never ends’ (Meera Menezes, The Meditative Brushstroke, Art India, vol. 3, issue 3, 1998, Mumbai, p. 69). Gaitonde never considered himself an abstract painter, stating that there is no such thing as an abstract painting, instead referring to his work as “non-objective."
Dhyaneshwar Nadkarni identifies an ‘evocative power’ in Gaitonde’s paintings ‘which operates on more than one level.’ There is a sense of ‘atmosphere, there is an approximation of music and what is most important, there is a throbbing mystery about the very process of viewing and responding as if one is sucked into some still centre of hithreto unknown experience.’ (D Nadkarni, Gaitonde, Lalit Kala Akademi, 1983).
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